I’m thinking about rules again today.
In January my father sadly died of leukaemia. At his funeral, some friends from his renga group read out a renga they had been working on and explained that a section Dad had worked on before he died wasn’t strictly renga because it contained humour, but as it was his funeral they were going to allow it . . .
I sat there thinking ‘Blimey! This was a talented, creative man, who was well admired by many for his work as a teacher, an artist and towards the end of his life a poet, but he still had to die before he was allowed to bend the rules!’
Another thing that bothered me was that renga was supposed to be a fun, sociable, entertaining form of Japanese poetry. So why no humour?
Once we take an art form from another country and transpose it to be enjoyed in our culture, by the use of not just translation but by the very fact that we have different attitudes and behaviours and a different language, it changes. We have humour in our culture. It is very important to us. Our language works differently to the Japanese language – we stress different words when we speak and our syllables within words are greater in number. It changes.
I feel that if I was in a group that told me humour was not allowed I wouldn’t remain within that group. I would be surprised if my father, who was tremendously funny, conformed to these limitations . . . Maybe he didn’t?
Just a wee thought before I get the kids’ tea